Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Northampton Group of Bus Users UK (BUS 134)


1.1  As a user group we were dismayed to hear from the local media that Northamptonshire County Council supported bus services were to be totally withdrawn. However this did give the Local Transport Authority the opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper to provide a more cost-effective provision of bus services throughout the whole county.

1.2  The bus subsidy budget was reduced from £3.4 million to £0.7 million, but later revised to £1.0 million.

1.3  Our main concern is that the county council have yet to determine exactly how to effectively spend their lower allocation of funds.

1.4  We currently have a situation where a rural bus service has been reduced from two buses operating the service, to one. There was a two hour frequency from 0700 to 1900 hours. This now means that a journey which on a clockwise circular route used to take 20 minutes, now takes 80 minutes going anti-clockwise. They have two buses into Northampton in the morning, and two journeys back in the late afternoon. Surely a taxi-bus to link with nearby shopping centres on the edge of Northampton, with links to other buses, would be more suitable. Within this same route, other villagers who have shops and medical facilities just five miles away, have a five and a half hour wait to return home by bus. Again, a taxi-bus at mid-day could solve this problem.

1.5  All relevant parish councils are presently being contacted, with a 27 May deadline, with new "dial a ride" or "community" bus services being introduced from 5 September.


2.1  The re-imbursement from the local transport authority to the bus operators has now reached an all time low of around 38p in the pound per journey made.

2.2  One bus company in the county has written to the thirteen parish councils their bus service passes through, asking for financial assistance.

2.3  Senior citizens are asking to be allowed to pay £1 each time they travel. They are requesting permission to do this on all journeys, in order to save their bus service. Otherwise they will feel stranded. This would be similar to a scheme this county introduced when travelling outside the District of residence, when free passes were first introduced. Any payment, however, is currently not allowed by the present law of the land. I understand that one bus chain is asking for donations.

2.4  Bus companies are re-costing the viability of providing a bus service where the majority of passengers are pass-holders, finding them not viable, and either asking the Local Transport Authority for public funding, or withdrawing from the route. (See 1.4 as an example).

2.5  Some villages currently receiving a two hourly frequency, six days a week, ace the prospect of just one bus each way, on one or two days a week.


3.1  An on-line "Have Your Say" consultation is presently under way (1.5) Local press are urging bus passengers to participate.

3.2  Passenger Focus and Bus Users U.K. At national level have organised a "YOUR BUS MATTERS" surgery in Northampton Market Square on 4 June 2011.

3.3  One national canal attraction. With limited parking, is included on the bus route at 1.4, and is asking for a better bus service.

3.4  Passengers need to travel to places of work, medical and dental appointments, probation service appointments, connect with rail and ferry services. Leisure pursuits will no doubt be non-existent with the withdrawal of evening and Sunday journeys. This is a quality of life issue.


I feel consultation should have carried out earlier, in order to allay bus passengers fears. We felt we were in limbo, as no dates for implementation were forthcoming, until the recent consultation launch. The end result may prove to be suitable to most, but not all passengers needs. It is intended to provide schemes similar to those operating in Lincolnshire, in most parts of the county. Bus stop provision for two bus stops, so as not to tread on a commercial route, requested in August 2010 has yet to be installed. A revised service, requiring a subsidy, with a suggested time-table following a meeting attended by Andrea Leadsom M.P. In October 2010 has still to be introduced to replace a three hour frequency service in which passengers have lost confidence.

As a Bus User Group, we meet four times a year with representatives from both the Local Transport Authority and the bus companies. At our last meeting First Bus, Stagecoach, Meridian Bus and Centre Bus were all represented. Soul Bothers, Country Lion and Yorks (Bowen) were also invited. Our views and concerns are treated with respect, and changes we suggest are made where possible.

April 2011

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Prepared 11 August 2011